It’s five o’clock, you’re just getting ready to leave work and suddenly you are gripped with the awful realization that you have nothing to feed your family for supper.

Well soon there will be more tasteful and nutritious options than pizza, fast food, or frozen dinners. Imagine having a meal of fusion salmon or honey coriander chicken with a spicy peanut sauce waiting at home and all you have to do is to combine the ingredients and pop it in the oven.

That dream will become a reality in mid June, when Oak Park resident Amy Pokras will be opening her new business, The Prep Kitchen, at 7237 Madison on the first floor of the new Madison Commons development.

The business aims at helping those who want to eat well, but can’t find the time to do all the work that goes into preparing sumptuous, nutritious meals.

“We help solve the problem of ‘oh my God it’s five o’clock and what are we going to have for dinner’,” Pokras said.

Pokras, who calls herself a recovering attorney, will be opening the Prep Kitchen with her husband David Wachtel who will be keeping his day job as an ecologist. Pokras worked as a legal aid lawyer in DuPage County from 1996 to 2001 and then worked for two and a half years at Baker & McKenzie, a mammoth international law firm based in Chicago. But, she said, she has always loved to cook and wanted to find work that would allow her to spend more time with her two children: daughter Zoe, 4, and son Zachary, 22 months. In February of 2004 Wachtel was watching the Food Network and learned about a concept called meal assembly or take-and-go and suddenly “wow, it just clicked for us” said Pokras who had left her job to have Zachary.

The Prep Kitchen will assemble and prepare all the ingredients for meals. They do all the tiresome prep work: the chopping, the dicing and the mincing that takes so much time.

Customers sign up for one of three monthly plans and come into the prep kitchen for one two-hour session a month. When they walk in, customers will find everything they need. They will assemble all their daily meals into separate bags that they take home. They then cook the meals at home when they are ready to eat them.

“We do all the shopping, chopping and mopping up,” Pokras said. “They don’t have to wash anything but their hands. We’re a time saving, energy saving solution. Our target market is busy families with kids.”

Pokras also hopes that her business will appeal to the owners of the Madison Commons condominiums who are beginning to move into their new units.

The Prep Kitchen expects to initially offer three meal plans: The smallest offers 12 separate meals with up to 36 portions for $140. There is an eight-meal plan with up to six portions per meal for $165 and a 12-meal plan with up to 72 portions for $210.

More information will soon be available on the Prep Kitchen web site ( which will be up shortly, Pokras said.

Pokras considered sites in Oak Park and River Forest, but ultimately decided that the Madison Commons location was the most desirable, especially because of the municipal parking available in the rear of the building.

“Forest Park is such an up and coming community,” Pokras said. “The location, in itself, was a huge factor. Rents are lower than in Oak Park or River Forest for the same or better space.”

The Prep Kitchen will be the second business to open in the first floor retail space at Madison Commons joining running store Run Chicago which opened approximately six weeks ago. Fantastic Sam’s, a franchise family hair salon is expected to open June 24, according to owner O’Neal Robinson and Dahn World Yoga Centers has singed a lease and is expected to open in August.